The Boston Marathon!!

I cannot believe it is time to be writing this post!  I’m so happy and proud to report that I FINISHED THE BOSTON MARATHON!  It was a lot harder than I anticipated.  The weather was significantly hotter than any training runs I had done and I felt heavy from the beginning, a feeling I wasn’t used to feeling until deep into the long runs.  Nonetheless, I was able to push through and I am so grateful that I did!  While I didn’t hit a time goal that I was hoping/expecting, I did achieve my first and most important goal – finishing.  My official finish time was 5:31:25.  In considering the weather, my need for consistent water and all of the picture taking I undertook, I think that’s a pretty solid time 🙂
This post will be a narrative of my day.  I’m still wrapping my head around this entire experience, yesterday and the 4 months leading up to it.  When I really sit and think, it is a very emotional contemplation and one I plan to reflect on in an upcoming post. 
But let’s talk about Monday, April 21, 2014!!
We got to Spaulding bright and early Monday morning.  As in 5:00 a.m. early.  So yes, I woke up in the 4’s.  Actually, I need a few alarms to get my butt moving every morning so technically my first alarm went off at 3:50 a.m.   Even though I’m notorious for pictures, I couldn’t bring myself to snap any pictures that early.  Suffice it to say it was still dark out.  But surprisingly, people were relatively animated on the buses and the energy was already mounting even though we were many hours from our start time.
We were so very fortunate to have accommodations at the Hopkinton Senior Center for the morning.  While I’m sure Athlete’s Village could be a considered a right of passage, of sorts, I wasn’t about to complain because I’m never one to turn down indoor plumbing.  This pre-party was sponsored by Adidas and we shared it with team members from The One Fund.  I think we arrived here about 6:30ish.  Only 5 hours to our start!
Early on the Race for Rehab team had a photo. 
Spaulding employees hung back for a separate pic.
With something like 4+ hours before we would head to the start line, it was time to fuel up…
Get any last minute running swag in place….
Take a selfie with my team captain…
Add some last minute mementos to the sneaks…
Take some more selfies…
Occasionally ask someone to take a pic for us…
And figure out other places to write our names to assure we’d get cheers along the way!
It was a long morning, for sure.  The set up was amazing, though, and there was basically everything there you could have asked for.  Tons of food choices. Gels. Anti-chaffing balms.  Bags of hard boiled eggs (yeah, that grossed most of us out, though the sentiment was appreciated).  The volunteers from Spaulding, the Senior Center and the other teams were just awesome and a much needed support.  Dr. Carter took us through a pre-race visualization exercise and then we were ready to head to the corrals!
See, I don’t always only take pictures of myself.  Sometimes I ask others to take a cheesy picture of me.
Leaving the senior center, to the corrals, a call for anyone behind me to get in on some ussie action!
Approaching the corrals…
Here’s what I feel we did not miss out on….a bajillion port-a-potties.  I’m more than happy to say I saw them, but did not have to use them!
On the way to my corral!
Who, me?  I’m an “Official Runner” ?!  Awesome!
Most of our team was in Corral 2…
Which was awesome, because it was the perfect opportunity to snap some ussies!!
Up ahead, I can see it!  The start line!
The rest of the Wave 4 runners lining up behind me .
To my right…
And we’re off!!
A quick starting ussie with Jes, who I ran a good part of our long 21 mile run with a few weeks ago.
Really cool getting going and seeing this up ahead.
Entering Ashland!  I never looked, but I did apparently run on some portions of the course here when I ran the Marathon Park Prep half marathon in Ashland. 
Caught up with Suzanne and Amanda for a bit.  Clearly took and ussie.  Was nice to have some company for a bit near the beginning. 
I was dying, feeling as if I could not get enough water, and then this guy passed me dressed in wool.  Ugh, dude.  Just ugh!
Next stop, Framiningham.  And what a great sign as a welcome! They were also playing Sweet Caroline here and I have a great video with everyone fist pumping at the “Buh Buh Buh!” part. That’s right, I pulled off a few videos along the way too. Fancy!
Kind of love this selfie.  The blue and yellow Boston Strong representing all over the place!
We’re in Natick!
Yes, I was not above trying to get pics of fellow runners in interesting outfits.  Props to you, sir.  you pull off Wonder Woman well!
Hey, I remember running by this little lake/pond/reservoir/river(???) thing during training!
It was still really motivating even when the crowds weren’t dense.  People taking the time to be along the course showing their support was awesome. 
We had an Elvis-style singer to serenade us at this point of the race.
Yes we do, sir.  Yes. We. Do.
I loved this part!  There was a fitness business here and there was a long line of people cheering while jumping on trampolines.  If I was more confident in my abilities, I would have gone over for a quick jump.  But I know me and I am fairly certain I would have fallen off and twisted and/or broken something.  Didn’t seem like a reasonable risk to take so early in the race.
What a tease!  I thought this was the real Prudential building!  Better keep running…
It was very cool, though.  I waved to them to get their attention so they knew I was taking their picture.  They all started cheering my name through the megaphone too!
Hi Wellesley!  I know what this means.  Almost halfway there!…
…Oh yeah, and the Screech Tunnel!
It was a welcome distraction to look at some of the many signs along this part of the course.
And some runners collected on their kisses.
So many signs.  Thanks Wellesley College!
I appreciate your support, random stranger.
On this water break, I decided to get a little artsy with the photographing.
One of the best things about this race was all of the runners that would stop to speak to and take photographs with the fans along the route.  It shows you that this was not so much a race, as a day of unity, support and love.
I wish this picture wasn’t blurry (though I’m surprised how many came out pretty good despite the running movement!)  This sign said “Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever.”  A much needed reminder given how I was feeling at this part of the course. 
Newton, yay!
Oh wait, on second thought I think that means Heartbreak Hill…
Pretty sure Heartbreak Hill starts after the fire station…
And Heartbreak Hill is where I put my phone away. This was probably the most discouraging part of the course for me, which is so cliche.  I was disappointed because I rocked this part of the course during training two different times.  True I didn’t have 20 miles behind me before tackling this area, but still.  I didn’t have to walk during any of my long runs when I was training so it was very tough, mentally, for me to have to take a few walk breaks.  It was a nice surprise to see my colleagues Carrie and Kelly on the course at this point and in the end I made it through, just a bit slower than originally planned.
So the phone came back out again pretty much after I got through the BC area.
And I love Boston!
The adrenaline started pumping again when I got to Cleveland Circle, around mile 22, and I’m happy to report that not counting the quick stops for ussies, I was able to run the final 4.2 miles of the course without any real stops. 
Miles 22-26.2 were where I started running into friends and man was it much needed!  I can’t even explain how much the support in this final stretch truly pushed me through.  Thank you thank you THANK YOU to everyone I knew who was out there and who showed me some love!
First ussie with Kim and Kate.  What a great surprise! (and a great pic!)
Loved this sign!
More friends, Dana and Megg!  And My very own Kirby sign!
My first glimpse of the Citgo sign…way way way far in the distance!
Why thank you, sir.  Runners are sexy.  Even after 23ish miles with sweat salt all over their bodies.  Thank you!
So very fortunately, I happened to look to my right and see Randi.  So I ran over and she didn’t even see me.  So I said, “really, I need to spot you!?” 🙂  So happy I did, though, and she had the great sign she made me at the expo!  We didn’t take an ussie, but you can’t beat this pic!
The crowds were so dense at this part of Beacon Street, it was totally awesome! 
This takes a lot of commitment….
OMG I made it to Boston!! 
And the Citgo sign is even closer now!
And yay!  Kelly!!
I’m coming for you Kenmore Square!
Quick shadow photo op (haha I promise I just happened to see this pic after I snapped the Citgo photo.  Not too bad though!)
Ugh, this is such a tease!
YESSS!!!!  The feelings when I saw this sign were just totally unreal.
And right after realizing I only had a mile to go, I saw my best friend Lesley who came all the way in from NJ for the day with her amazing sign!
I pulled over for a quick ussie and I can’t believe how great this came out!  How I’m looking even mildly like a human being after 25 miles, I will never know.  The story of this pic goes I came over, whipped out the camera, took the shot, turned to Les and said “Love ya hon” and gave her a kiss on the cheek before running away.  Les said they were all dying because it was such a cool, calm and collected moment for mile 25!  It’s crazy what adrenaline can do!

Wait, what?! More friends before I hit the finish line?! Yess!!

Another amazing ussie with Scott and Julie!

1K! 1K! (wait, how far is a K again?) I don’t care! There’s the Prudential building and they wouldn’t make a giant sign about only having 1K to go if it wasn’t a very short distance!

Time to make that right on Hereford…
And then the left on Boylston!
My first view on Boylston, the finish is just up ahead!
Clearly making it to Boylston requires a selfie! (Seriously, how do I actually look kind of good in this??)
26 miles!!
And OMG my parents and Caitlin are on the street cheering for me!  My mom captured this shot of me when they called me over!

And the minute I got to them, I just burst into tears.

It was amazing, I mean AMAZING, having my parents there at the finish.  I expected to be emotional, but my reaction still surprised me.  As great as it was, I still had a finish line to cross!
There it is…I’m doing this!
Yup, finish line shadow selfie!
I burst in to tears again when I crossed and you can still kind of see the tears in my eyes in this first selfie after going under the finish line bridge.
And then I got my medal and the sun was shining brightly and I have never been so happy!
I got my heat sheet.  It took about a minute to get it on me.  I kept moving my arm and saying “wait, how does my arm go into this?” And then I started twisting and moving in weird directions punching at parts of it trying to find the arm hole.  The lady started laughing and literally had to grab my arm to guide it into the hole.  Needless to say, I was just a bit out of it after the finish line.
So from the finish, I had to find my way to the Mandarin Oriental for post-race celebrations with my team, family and friends. They gave us a map and I had it on my phone.  I started walking, or should I say slowly hobbling, through Boston in what I knew to be the general vicinity of the back entrance for the hotel.  I got to Copley but had to call Caitlin to pick me up.  I think I called her twice at two different points when I could have gone one of two ways.  I have walked this area for 13 years and it’s amazing how something that’s usually second nature to me felt so foreign.  Fortunately Cait found me wandering in Copley.  She approached waving her arms all excitedly and I apparently was looking right through her on her entire approach, very dazed and confused, sweating my butt off in that darn heat sheet.  

With Cait’s assistance, we got to the Mandarin safe and sound and it was time for a few pics!

Les was able to come for a bit before catching her train back to NJ/NYC.  How awesome is this sign!?

So happy Cait was there to celebrate!

And so much love for my parents, who not only supported me through this whole process but who were also champs this weekend with a wicked busy schedule full of all sorts of events.  I truly am so lucky to have such amazing parents!

I was that girl who didn’t shower right away and instead sat my sweaty self on a lovely upholstered couch.  You’re welcome, Mandarin.

Courtesy of Cait, she took some pics of the venue where she and my parents had been hanging out all afternoon.

She also went up to the top of the building where she works and got a few pics of the finish line from way up above!

With Les on her way back to her home, and about an hour and a half until our dinner reservations, I got ushered up to one of the rooms at the Mandarin for a shower and a quick rub down.  Mike can attest to the longest elevator ride ever as we attempted to get to the 7th floor, but no key card would work!  I was in my socked feet at this time and we were both dying, just begging to sit down.  But we finally made it and a hot shower and then this next awesome/awkward picture happened! 

Cleaned up the best I could, I got into my celebration jacket, medal and scarf and took the opportunity for a quick selfie on my way back down to meet my parents.

I got back to the reception and it was really fun to get a big cheer from Spaulding’s President, David Storto, who also ran.  He was very enthusiastic about making the famous Kirby blog with a selfie 🙂

And apparently my mother captured us getting into selfie position from afar…haha

After the Mandarin we made our way to dinner with a few stops along the way.

A photo with the folks at the finish line.  It was so awesome walking through Boston and seeing fellow finishers in their jackets and metals with smiles and congratulations all around!

Strength Lives Here.  Humanity Lives Here. 

I got stopped by a mother and her young daughter.  They told me they found runners an inspiration and the little girl asked for a picture with me.  She wants to run the Boston Marathon when she grows up!

Made it to dinner at Zocalo Back Bay and was greeted by my friends Vanessa, Kelly and Caitlin (again!)

We had a delicious dinner  and a great time.  I’m so thankful to have amazing people to celebrate with!  There were a lot of other finishers there as well which are for a really fun vibe in the restaurant. 

And that was my day!!  We got home after 10p.m.  And I went to bed around midnight.  This morning I popped out of bed at 6:00 a.m., wide awake, and I’m convinced something must be wrong with me!  Apparently I’m still soaring on an adrenaline rush because surprisingly I’m not feeling horrible today.  I’m walking relatively normal and don’t feel even close to as stiff as I did after I had immediately finished running.  I had the day off of work today but ran out to do a few errands and proudly sported this shirt my mom got for me.  (My name is on the back).

I still can’t believe I RAN THE BOSTON MARATHON.  I’m not sure exactly when it will “sink in.”  While there will be more of this to come when I write a more reflective post, I seriously want to thank everyone in my life who has supported me through this entire journey.  I could not have done this without all of you.  It took a major life adjustment and some sacrifices, but 4 months was a small investment to make to have one of the most incredible days of my life!

Virtual Pep Rally!

What a fun and motivating post to work on the day before heading out to Hopkinton!

With about a month to go I put a call out for my “virtual cheerleaders” to help keep me motivated in the final push to get to the start line of my first ever marathon.  The results were awesome and I’m feeling so loved! To all my cheerleaders, I would not have been able to take on this challenge without you.  Each of you, and all of your pictures, will be on my mind as I make my way 26.2 miles!

Such a special picture from a very special family and some of my best friends

These next 26 pictures, 1 for each mile, were sent to me from my dear friends, starring their son Ben (aka Chewie). Leslie said that posing for 26 pictures was like the equivalent of a marathon for Chewie. But with that, I feel he really captures the the emotions, and the pain(?), I’ll be experiencing mile by mile with each of his expressions. 
I tend to wear heels pretty often (though near the end of training I cut it down a bit on the daily to try and keep my feet/legs rested).  When I got this pic from my aunt, I thought it was perfect! Maybe I’ll train for my next marathon in heels!
This picture from Krista opened the flood gates to my animal cheerleaders!
All the way from Seattle, Bo is exhausted at the idea of running a marathon and Juan captured it perfectly.  Don’t worry dude, I’ll run it for you!
Took me a good minute of analyzing this pic to understand what, exactly, my mother had in her mouth.  When I realized the marathon was Easter weekend, the fact this was a bunny mouth all made sense.  Kind of 😉
One night Scrimmage was looking at me and I could tell he wanted in on the action of cheering for me (yes, I’m one of those pet people at times!)  So “we” started using his toys to spell out “Go Mom.”  It looked ok, and was even partly legible, but Scrimmage was confused and thought we were playing.  He ran through the piles, I was urging him to “stop, stop!” and we ended up with this….some piles of toys and a confused looking dog.  
My best friend, Lesley, (or really I should say one of her bunnies) got into the cheer zone all the way from NJ.  I do not accept your challenge, Gilbert.  I have to work on pacing!
Can’t go wrong when babies and animals cheer together!  Thanks Amanda, Joe, Lauren & Bailey!
Little nugget cheerleaders are the best!  Thanks Nikki, Brian and Davin!

I was told capturing this next picture took patience, but it was well worth it in my opinion!  Thanks Karla!
I saw this next picture from Gino and thought “wow, what commitment to costuming!”  Then I found out everything he is wearing are edible pieces from a cake and the words just totally escaped me…. 😛
I wish I looked this great when I run, but all that matters is this is how I THINK I look 🙂  Thank you Karen!
Caitlin truly represented cheerleader style and went all out with the makeup, ribbons and signs!  I love that Smithsonian, the trusted travel buddy, also got in on the action!  See you at the finish, Cait!!
I can be a total goof, as many of you know.  Well this picture gives an insider look into where I get it from.  Thanks, DAD! 
Lots of love from two of my favorite little people ever, Riley & Brynna (and their parents Alexis and Jason)!  I love the details of the sign and am totally feeling the love!
It was great leaving work on Friday having received this card from my colleague, Sarah! Too bad no costumes were allowed this year!
Was a bummer to hear you’re sick, Rebecca, but don’t worry I’ll do the running!
This next post is a bit of an inside joke, though I think many have been let in over the years so it probably makes sense to more than I even realize!  Brad you keep me posted, ok? 😉
Oh, and did you know that a marathon is 319,236.92 jars of Fluff long?  Yup.
Q-town love from my girl and ski sistah Randi!  Wish I could have spent some time at the expo with you, but this sign totally rocks (not as much as you!)  Thanks for thinking of me & I can’t wait to be your cheerleader for your Antarctica marathon adventure!
Got this on Easter Sunday, the day before the big run.  I’ll let the Facebook post speak for itself.  Thank you so so much Meghan and Tim!

An oldie, but a goodie, this picture was resurrected to send me some love from my friend Todd, who was our BU mascot Rhett! I remember this day so vividly…Rhett wore my Patriots jersey on the ice!

Dawn, and her chicks, have spirit! Love!!

Thank you all so so much!  This was so much fun, having a virtual pep rally and the loves and support is both overwhelming and inspiring!

Remember, if you’re out on the course tomorrow try to call me over for an ussie along the way!  I look forward to seeing any pics you are able to snap (but maybe use some good judgement before posting, especially if you’re near the finish when I bet I’ll be looking a bit rough.  Might I recommend “blast shot” mode?  1 picture out of 50 will have to look decent, right?? 😛 )

Marathon "Warm-Up"

So perhaps I had an overly ambitious “warm-up” for my first ever marathon 2 days prior to the big race, but truthfully today was awesome and I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
Bright and early, Spaulding runners for the BAA 5K met at the State House for a quick photo op.  
It was great being able to run with my colleague, Gabi.  She is a nurse with our SCI program and this was an awesome out of work thing to be able to share with someone I see almost every day. 
I also had a little pre-race time with Dr. Carter, one of our staff psychologists.  While he is not running the marathon this year he has in the past and he is our official support for the Race for Rehab team.  
An added bonus to the day was seeing some college friends, Scotty & Julie P!  
Some of the pre-race sights. 

This was quite the event.  The BAA opened up this event to 10,000 runners, which was quite the scene!  My dad said that there were literally people just getting started when the first finishers were approaching.  That’s crazy!

From my spot in line, which trust I cut and jumped a barricade to get to, this was the view behind me….

And here was the view ahead.
And obviously you snap a selfie, I’m sorry ussie, from within the crowd!
It was a lovely 3.1 mile loop around one of the greatest areas of Boston.  In practice for marathon day, I took some shots along the way!
And attempted action ussies.
Kind of love this one!
Approaching the bridge tunnel.

Get to the bridge tunnel where runners are passing both ways and it’s time for high fives and lots of screaming!
Great race, time for a medal selfie!
After an excellent morning race, it was time to head to Copley Square Plaza for the Tribute Run/Walk.

It was very special to spend this time with my colleagues, KC and Kelly, who were runners last year that were unable to finish.

The crowd was filled of survivors, first responders, supporters and more; it was really overwhelming and oh so special to be a part of this group. 
Before starting, we got an address from Mayor Walsh. 
We broke in to an easy run (and I took this ussie on Newbury Street).
Flowers on the window sill of the Boston Public Library.  They are also all around downtown, a real sense of Boston Strong. 
Having lived in Boston for 13 years, I really consider this city my home and I wanted to be a part of everything this weekend was about to show my love for this city and its people.  But now I promise I’m done with any and all running and am officially resting until Monday!  
BAA 5K and Tribute Run Bibs & Medals

The BAA 5K Course Route

The Tribute Run Route

Pre-Marathon Race for Rehab Event

So I promised I was done running, but we still had our Race for Rehab pre-marathon event at 2 p.m. today at the Revere Hotel!

Part of the silent auction
We received a lovely program that served as a great reminder as to why we are running.  Together the team shared their stories and reasons for running and all of our accomplishments along the way, so far, were highlighted.  Looking through this really helped me remember why I took this challenge on in the first place.

My Entry
Once in the theater, we got our “Playbill,” a really cute way to present the agenda.
David Storto, Spaulding’s President and our teammate, gave wonderful words of welcome.  There was a surprise word from Kevin Spacey, who was here in Boston at the time of the marathon last year and who extended his visit at that time with a special visit to all patients at Spaulding.  He’s here again this weekend and also spoke, and participated, at the Tribute Walk/Run.  Heather Abbott, a Survivor from last year, shared her story and experience of rehabilitation at Spaulding.  Ernst van Dyk, an honorary team captain of the Race for Rehab team for many years, is truly an inspiration never letting himself be held back in life or sport despite being born with a congenital birth defect.  Our team physical therapist gave us some last words of advice.  And last, but not least, our team captains reviewed some logistics, it true captain style, and also presented a few team superlatives.
For those of you who have been following my journey, before checking out the picture below, can you guess what I got?
How fitting!  Clearly I had to take a selfie with the award.  Also, clearly my plan all along has been to have fun on Monday taking some pictures (selfies, ussies, yousies, you name its!) Not sure I’ve quite mastered the ability to upload on the run, though.  Maybe I’ll save that for marathon number two!
Here’s hoping I can steal a better, more professional, picture of our team 🙂

Phew!  So this was quite the day but like I said, it was a day full of awesomeness, emotions and excitement.  I’m feeling strong and ready to tackle Monday’s miles.  Tomorrow is all about some quality family time with the folks and relaxation.  Also early to bed because Monday morning’s alarm will be set for 4:00 a.m.!

Caught this on the eye opener the next morning! Haha